Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

 

I really don't know how people tolerate people on occasion.

And then there's networking.

The mere thought that you have to spend a lunchtime or, perish the concept, an evening mingling with strangers in the hope of getting business fills me with shivers.

But you're also supposed to make a wonderful first impression.

There's a whole industry surrounding how to present yourself for maximum impact.

Smile!

Practice your handshake!

Be interested and interesting!

Make sure you have a great dentist!

There are even suggestions about the first things you should say or ask.

One networking expert, however, thinks this is all bulbous bunkum.

Venture capitalist and entrepreneur Rich Stromback is one of those who floats around Davos and seems to know everyone.

He prefers to make a poor first impression.

In an interview published in the Harvard Business Review, he explained that if you try to look and sound as all the (other) experts tell you to, you'll "end up being completely forgettable."

Because it's fake. And people can see through fake. Especially those who are in positions of power.

"I'd almost rather make a bad first impression and let people discover me over time than go for an immediate positive response," he said.

He even claims that science backs him up.

"Curiously, research I read years ago suggests that you build a stronger bond over time with someone who doesn't like you immediately compared to someone who does," he said.

You'd never thought of it that way, did you?

At heart, if people want to do business with you, they'll be doing business with (something approximating) the real you, rather than a fake first-impressionist.

So why not put away the acting and be the person who you actually are? You never know, it might just work.

Stromback also had other pieces of networking advice.

99 percent of networking is a total waste of time. Networking isn't about going to as many events as you can. It's about simply meeting, conversing and then, who knows, converting.

His core suggestion is, therefore, a very simple one: Stop networking.

"Nobody wants to have a 'networking conversation,'" he said. "Especially those who are at the highest levels of business and politics. They are hungry for real conversations and real relationships. It just has to be authentic, genuine and sincere."

This may cause a revolution in your soul.

This might force you to reassess everything you've been doing and reading for the past too many years.

But think of how much easier it might be to be yourself.

You'll have to think so much less about those cheesy opening lines.

Or is that the real you?

Published on: Mar 17, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.